It's best for `righteous' drivers to stay to right

TRAFFIC TALK

Traffic Talk

October 15, 2002|By Jody K. Vilschick | Jody K. Vilschick,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

LAST WEEK'S column providing rationalizations for drivers to camp out in the left lane set off a storm of responses.

Frederick resident Bonnie H. answered the comments of several readers who objected to what they perceived was the "vilification" of drivers who obey the speed limit.

"Without belaboring the issue, I would like to add that those who `righteously' obstruct the faster drivers are a safety hazard that will cost the lives of innocent travelers!" she said.

"When speeders swerve around slower vehicles, pass on the right, and/or tailgate, the accidents they cause rarely involve just their own vehicle," she said.

"High-speed crashes on our highways take many lives and inflict lots of injury. Purposefully positioning your vehicle in the fast lane to slow down the speeders, in fact, increases the likelihood of accidents. Leave the judgments to the police and to God. One lunatic [the speeder] on the highway is bad enough, but two [the speeder and the righteous, self-appointed enforcer of the law] dramatically increase the likelihood of an accident!"

Although the comments from the following two readers sent chills down my spine, they illustrate exactly Bonnie H.'s point, and I decided to publish them to demonstrate the extent to which some drivers will go to get around slower drivers.

Sadiq Ansari of Clarksville recently drove round trip across the country at an "average speed of 100 mph."

"I noticed that as soon as I hit Maryland, drivers were extremely incompetent, ignorant and discourteous," he said. "Every single driver in every state (with the exception of a fellow Marylander in Texas) allowed me to pass them. They did not feel `righteous' or oblivious. They knew what was going on around them," Ansari said.

"Drivers in Maryland are such wusses, and the state government enforces this lily-livered attitude on the road," he added. "Well guess what, 99 percent of the people who speed are people who know how to drive and have driving skill. The `speeding-related' accidents are caused by extremely fast drivers (50 mph or more over the limit) and idiot slow drivers in the left lane. Why do people think that speeders are endangering their lives? All you jerks who are afraid of fast drivers need to stop whining and keep your Toyota Tercels in the right lane - or better yet, off the freeway."

You are the hazard, Mr. Ansari, not the slower, law-abiding drivers. No matter how skilled a driver you think you are, do us all a favor and slow down.

If that's not scary enough for this pre-Halloween season, here is what Chris Elwood, who lives in White Marsh and commutes daily to Rockville, had to say: "It just drives me nuts when I see a car in the left lane with a trail of 10 to 20 cars behind it," he said. "They create a road hazard because everyone behind them becomes aggressive trying to get around them."

"Regarding the self-designated preservers of the speed limit in the fast lane, this is the real world. Yes, speeders break the law, but I defy you to find a driver that you can follow for 15 minutes [without] qualifying for a moving violation," he said. "So stop being a boob and move over with the rest of the moo-cows. If you don't, I will be happy to scare the pants off of you with some Nascar-style passing maneuvers. It's your choice."

Mr. Elwood then described, in detail, his passing maneuvers, which are clearly meant to intimidate the driver being passed and are reckless and offensive.

Sorry Mr. Elwood. I don't condone either the fact that you speed or your disregard for those who choose not to. But you are exactly the reason why I hope everyone else will try to stay out of the left lane for their safety because evidently you do not care about theirs or yours.

I do know whom I would rather share the roads with, and it is not you, Mr. Elwood.

Road closings

Pfeiffer Corner, at the intersection of Old Montgomery Road and Route 108 in Ellicott City will be closed this week to implement traffic improvements. Lighted message boards have been posted in the vicinity of the closure. Detour signs are posted along Old Montgomery Road, Tamar Drive, Pfeiffer Place and Route 108.

This project will fix the steep grade at the intersection, permitting a more easily maneuverable right turn onto Route 108 from Old Montgomery Road as well as left turn from Route 108 onto southbound Old Montgomery Road. Additionally, Pfeiffer Place will be closed permanently at the end of construction. Construction should be completed just after the new year.

And finally, through the rest of this week from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., look for lane closures on Route 32 East from Guilford Road overpass to the Pindell School Road bridge.

Next week: Who to call when you notice a road hazard.

What's your traffic trauma? Contact Jody K. Vilschick at elison@us.net or send faxes to 410-715-2816. Technophobes can mail letters to Traffic Talk, The Sun in Howard County, 5570 Sterrett Place, Suite 300, Columbia 21044.

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